The St. David’s Society of Wyoming Valley will be hosting its annual St. David’s Day Banquet on March 2 at the Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre.
The evening will feature guest speaker Alun Guy, a prestigious musician in the world of Welsh music hailing from Cardiff, Wales. Alun has been to Wilkes-Barre on three previous occasions: 1983, 1993, and 2007, to direct three Cymanfas, or Cymanfa Ganu, which are choral concerts of Welsh Hymns, sung in 4-part harmony.
A graduate of Cardiff University in Wales, Alun won many choral awards with his Cardiff Choir and Orchestra as a student. He became a high school music teacher, which enabled him to participate in the Cymanfa Ganu festivals. He has conducted over 900 of these festivals and holds the all-time record of five appearances as guest conductor of the National Esteddfod Cymanfa in Wales. He has worked with many famous Welsh Performers, and he also hosts a BBC Wales Broadcast, which critiques singers in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Harry Haas, a member of the group, relates that the society “has a main goal to celebrate our area’s Welsh heritage and to promote the cultural legacy that continues to this day.” The society has monthly meetings and the banquet is open to all members of the community. The society has several members from the Mountaintop area, including Robert Eastwood, John J. Hughes Jr., Judge Richard M. Hughes III, and Owen D. Williams.
The Welsh immigrated to the United States and primarily settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1800’s because of it’s rich natural resources such as agriculture, lumber, anthracite coal, slate, and the iron industry. In fact, Pennsylvania has more people of Welsh ancestry than any other state in the country! The Welsh also produced many poets, which were given the title of bard. Scranton was home to more than 50 bards in 1910! The Eisteddfod festival, a literary and singing festival, was introduced to America in 1850 in Carbondale. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 a choir from Scranton won a top prize of $5,000 at a festival, defeating the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Alun will arrive in the United States on March 1, which happens to be St. David’s Day, honoring the Patron Saint of Wales.
St. David, also known as Dewi Sant, founded an extremely aesthetic religious community. He has many miracles attributed to him, including one where he raised the ground so he could be seen and heard by everyone as he was preaching. He was recognized as a saint in 1120. In 1398, his feast day was to be celebrated in every church in the Province of Canterbury. After the Protestant Reformation, this celebration of his feast day ended. His birthday was celebrated in the 18th century as a national festival. In Wales, it is a custom on March first to wear either a Daffodil or a Leek (which are emblems of Wales), or for girls to wear the national costume in celebration of St. David’s Day.
The community is invited to share in this celebration of Welsh culture at St. David’s Society Banquet. For tickets, or information on the banquet, which begins at 4 pm. or St. David’s Society call 570-472-3046.